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Abstract

This study is a research reconnaissance into the visual imagery in the poetry of Jan Kochanowski, Poland’s most talented poet before the Romantic Age. Although he was familiar with the technique of ekphrasis and took an interest in emblems, he seems to have been rather sparing in making use of visual potential of the poetic word. However, he does rely on the sense of sight in his epistemological refl ection concerning the problem of knowing God, aesthetics (the experience of beauty) and ethics (the visible order of the world as a guide to proper conduct). The eye also plays a major role in his descriptions of the human psychology, especially love. The sight has a special function in his Treny (Laments), a cycle of elegies written after the death of his baby daughter Urszula in 1579. While addressing the fundamental questions of life and death, Kochanowski draws on visual and aural imagery to convey the devastating pain felt by the father after the death of his beloved child and to question his earlier confi dence in man’s sovereign mind.
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